Women have come a long way from being labeled as the weaker of the human species. However, that does not mean that the fight for equality is over. The battle for equal pay and to permeate the glass ceiling that seems to be unreachable for women is still on going. I mean, let’s do a little test. What comes to mind when a job recruitment drive puts up a vacancy for a secretary or a nurse? For most of you readers, the image of a lady would automatically be in in view. Quite stereotypical but hey, on the bright side, things are slowly taking on a change.
This International Women’s Day, Xilnex would like to celebrate the empowerment of women. Throughout the years, more and more women are taking charge of businesses and creating innovative ways of driving their businesses. We would know because, well, we are in the business to improve their business.
In conjunction with the celebration of women worldwide, Xilnex has created a list, in no particular order, of the women in Asia that has shaped the world to what it is today; the influencers, entrepreneurs, thinkers, decision makers and the passionate ones.
- CHEW GEK KHIM, 54
Probably one of the most influential woman in Singapore, Chew wears many hats. She is the Executive Chairman of Tecity Group, Chairman of Malaysia Smelting Corporation Berhad and ARA Trust Management (Suntec) Limited, Deputy Chairman of ARA Asset Management Limited and is one of the board members of Singapore Exchange Limited. She is also the Deputy Chairman of Tan Chin Tuan Foundation in Singapore and Chairman of Tan Sri Tan Foundation in Malaysia. To add to her already established repertoire, she is also the Member of the Securities Industry Council of Singapore, the SSO Council and the Board of Governors of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
Besides being a successful businesswoman in an arena filled with men, Chew is a philanthropist with a big heart. When asked about her philanthropy works, she once said:
‘The lesson there is that when you give, you must give with a personal element. You do it because on the other side is another human being.’
- DIPALI GOENKA, 47
One of the successful entrepreneurs in India, it was less than a decade ago when Geonka took charge of a home textiles maker company, an industry that is heavily dominated by men. Many did not foresee a good outcome from the transition but Geonka got to work and proved many wrong. Up to date, revenue and earnings went up several folds. In a culture believe that women are meant to stay in the kitchen, Goenka and her family bridged norms and after getting married and having two children, she decided to pursue her passion.
She worked her way up in the company. Slowly but surely, her passion is seen through the profit she brings into the company. On women at work, she once said:
‘Women should work. They should go beyond clothes, bags and jewellery. Working empowers you, and it makes you confident and in charge of yourself.’
- NGUYEN THI PHUONG THAO, 46
Cofounder and major shareholder of Sovico, the company owns the commercial HD Bank and international budget airline VietJet Air. Most would know her from the controversial introduction of flight attendants cladded in bikinis where the budget airline company was then dubbed the bikini airline. It was a good move as Thao re-fleeted VietJet with a $2.39 billion deal for 20 Airbus A321 planes followed by another announcement that VietJet would buy $11.3 billion worth of 737-Max Jets from Boeing during President Obama’s visit to Vietnam last year.
Thao is a forward thinking, brave and passionate entrepreneur. These qualities has pushed her right through the glass ceiling and much to everyone’s surprise, moved VietJet to 30% of the market share in Vietnam in just a few years. When asked about the ladder towards success, she said:
‘I worked so hard and earned the trust of suppliers by always being honest with them. I didn’t have much money. They gave me more and more products with longer credit terms.’
- GOH AI CHING, 30
Young with big dreams, Goh quit her day job and founded Piktochart, a web-based app that helps non-designers create beautiful infographics. Not only that, she amassed that into a profitable business without any external investors. There are now six million users, with 60% of them from the United States and Canada – just within four years.
She is now a member of the Forbes Technology Council and also the Grand Winner of StartupMalaysia.org’s entrepreneurship programme. When asked about her drive that pushed her to where she is even at such a young age, she said that she lives life according to the philosophy, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Goh hopes to keep running a good race and to impact the lives of others.
- REESE FERNANDEZ-RUIZ, 32
What is more beautiful than women helping other women in a society where the gender gap is large? Fernandez-Ruiz and her team have been helping women living in poverty in the Philippines by providing an avenue for them to weave eco-ethical fashion and home accessories for Rag2Riches. Before this, many women could not earn enough because the industry was controlled by ‘middle-men’ who were not very concerned about their wellbeing. It was an unfair value chain.
Fernandez-Ruiz was recognized by Forbes in its prestigious annual list of 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs. Furthermore, Forbes also mentioned that she belongs to “an elite group of people who are directing their talent and conviction to better the world.”
There are just five out of the many women who are creating their marks in history. This International Women’s Day, Xilnex would love to celebrate with all the women in the industry. Here’s to equality, here’s to a better future for women in a men dominated society.